Sunday, 29 December 2013

Banksia cuneata - the "Matchbook" Plant


"Banksia cuneata 'Matchsticks'", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013


The Banksia cuneata or Matchstick Banksia is a large shrub or small tree growing up to 5 m.  Flowers are at first pink, then turn cream and finally reddish; they are borne in cone-like clusters with prickly foliage.  The common name Matchstick Banksia arises from the blooms in late bud, the individual buds of which resemble matchsticks. The species is pollinated by honeyeaters, a bird native to Australia, New Zealand and other islands of the southern Pacific.
Several branches of the Banksia cuneata shrub


The plant was named after Sir Joseph Banks, giving us the name: Banksia. Sir Joseph was the first European botanist to collect samples of this plant as he travelled with Captain Cook in 1770.  The wedge-shaped leaf provided the feature which led to the Latin term cuneata.
Once this plant grew plentifully throughout certain regions of Australia, particularly southwest Western Australia.

Banksia cuneata is classified as endangered, surviving in fragments of remnant bushland in a region which has been 93% cleared for agriculture. Actually, Banksia cuneata was declared as Rare Flora in 1982 under the Western Australian Wildlife Conservation Act, 1950 and is currently ranked as Endangered under the World Conservation Union due to there being less than 2500 mature plants in the wild and severe fragmentation of populations which are showing a continuing decline.
A Banksia cuneata shrub/small tree growing
in isolation on farmland

Banksia cuneata is rarely cultivated, and its prickly foliage limits its utility in the cut flower industry.

Most interesting to me was the archaeological data. The archaeological evidence suggests that banksias or Banksia-like plants have existed for over 40 million years. The first humans to discover and make use of Banksia plants were the Australian aborigines who used the nectar from the flowers as part of their diet. The first Europeans to observe Banksias were probably Dutch explorers who made several landfalls along the West Australian coast during the 17th and early 18th centuries. No botanical collections were made, however, until the discovery of the east coast of Australia by Captain James Cook in the Endeavour in April 1770. Accompanying Cook were botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander who collected many new species at Botany Bay, including the plant which today we know as Banksia cuneata!


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CHRISTMAS CARDS!

Unfortunately, I ran out of Christmas cards in those final days prior to the 25th -- and I still needed to send a few more cards to those kind friends who always remember me with a card.

I decided to do something "cute" rather than serious and I want to share the resulting illustration with you.  

The wording on this cover read "Not a creature was stirring" at the top and "not even a mouse"
at the bottom.  Suki was, of course, my model for the cat.  Thankfully, I was able to draw the mouse with just a suggestion of its "mouseiness" without having to get a real mouse as a model!!

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SUKI AND SALLIE

Her Royal-ness!  That look says:
"Is it time to eat again? -- if not why are you
making all that noise and waking me up?"
Well, Suki had a so-so Christmas.  She received several toys from friends of mine (and hers), but after playing with them for a short time, she showed no more interest in them.  She did get some extra food -- this pleased her very much and seems to have made her believe that she is always going to get extra food from now on!  I am slowly demonstrating to her that this is not the case.  She did enjoy playing with the wrapping paper for a while and even crawled inside a gift bag -- which she then attacked from the inside, completely destroying it!  But when I asked her on Boxing Day whether she had enjoyed her Christmas, she yawned - twice!  Of course, I am not sure that the yawn signified an answer as she often yawns when I ask her a question -- unless I say "Suki -- food time!" 

Actually, the most exciting thing that happened to Suki during these days of Christmas actually occurred yesterday, Saturday.  Braden came to visit us!  I gave him his gifts and while he really seemed to like the truck and car I gave him, he was much more entranced with Suki!

During the two hours he was here, he could only ignore Suki for a few minutes at a time.  Otherwise, Braden was either looking at the cat, rubbing Suki's head under the supervision of his father or trying to give Suki a hug.  This latter effort was, thankfully, avoided by the vigilance of myself and Braden's father.  I really have no idea what Suki would have done if this little boy had grabbed her around the mid-section and given her a big squeeze!

Interestingly, Suki was very patient with Braden.  She never once growled or showed any intention of scratching.  She actually allowed him to pester her for almost the entire time of the visit without showing any real distress or anger at all.  At once point, Suki did make a run for the bedroom where she sat under the bed for a while, but then she came back into the living room and allowed Braden to pet her head and stroke her back.  It was really something to see and I must say, I am really proud of Suki.

I would love to have a photo of the two of them, but, unfortunately, Braden's father had dropped his smart phone twice recently and its picture taking ability has been greatly diminished.  Hopefully, there will be many other opportunities to get a photo of Braden and Suki in the near future.

Most importantly, Braden did not exhibit any of the normal symptoms of an allergic reaction to cat dander while he was here. This makes me hopeful that he will be able to enjoy peoples' pets as he grows up.  I haven't had a report from his parents since the family returned home, but I am hoping that Braden did not suffer any ill effects.

Braden's visit was the highlight of my Christmas as well.  I was really disappointed that the ice storm kept me from gathering with his family for Christmas celebrations on the 22nd.  Maybe things will work out next year.

This being the Christmas holidays, I haven't had any doctors' visits over the past week and there won't be any until after the New Year. My problems continue unabated so this most recent medication I was given doesn't seem to be making any difference.  I am managing all right, however.

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So, now,  let me wish all those who will read this column over the next few days a Happy New Year.  I pray that 2014 will be a better year for us all.  May we all experience renewed health and an increase of joy in our lives.  Most of all, may we all experience that peace which God alone can give.  Without Him as my anchor, I would never feel safe in this chaotic world of ours.  So let me say it once again HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

This design came to me by way of a friend's birthday card.
I feel it graphically expresses my sentiments when I say:
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ONE AND ALL!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Daydreaming

"Young Woman Daydreaming", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

This week's drawing shows a young woman daydreaming as she sits beside an apple tree.  The time of the year is obviously late summer - early fall as the tree behind her is full of ripe apples, ready for picking.  She holds an apple in her hand, but her thoughts have left her so distracted that she has not yet taken a bite of the apple.

The drawing reminds me of how often, as a young woman, I used to sit and dream of the future -- wondering what my future would be. I could imagine all sorts of things happening and would often be distracted by visions of myself either as happily married with children or as a holy nun hidden in the silence of the cloister.

Of course, things did not work out at all as I imagined.  Life is messy and daydreams never are.

The art work that gave me the inspiration for this drawing is one of the better known works by an English artist named Charles E. Perugini.  In his painting, the young woman, in a similar pose, is reading while seated in a garden beside an apple tree.

Perugini was born in Naples in September of 1839 and given the name of Carlo. However, at the age of six years, he and his family moved to England where he lived, except for a few year in Paris, for the remainder of his life. At this time his name was changed to Charles.

Years later, after working with artists in Paris a short while, he became a protégé of Lord Leighton, who brought him back to England in 1863. Perugini may at first have worked as Leighton's studio assistant. Under Leighton's influence, he began as a painter of classical scenes; then he turned to the more profitable pastures of portrait painting, and genre pictures of pretty women and children. His works were, I think, fairly typical of the English artists of the Victorian era.


Kate Dickens Perugini modeled for 
a work by Sir John E. Millais.  
The work is entitled  “The Black 
Brunswicker” (1860) -- a portion of
which is used for the cover of a 
book on the life of Kate Perugini.

In 1874, he married the youngest daughter (Kate) of novelist Charles Dickens. As Kate Perugini she pursued her own artistic career, sometimes collaborating with her husband. Perugini and his wife maintained an active social life in artistic circles of their era. He died in London on December 22, 1918.  Since he also had a December birthday (today is the 22nd of December), I felt it was appropriate to post, today, a work of mine inspired by him! 


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BRADEN RETURNS

I haven't had any new photos of  Braden to show you for a while now.  Recently, however, his mom sent me some new ones.  

I really like the one below as it shows Braden busily engaged in stirring a pot of food.  I felt it was a cleverly symbolic way to show something of his character!  What I am saying is that I do believe Braden is going to grow up to be one of those people who may occasionally enjoy "stirring the pot"!


Braden helping his grandmother prepare dinner -- at his Grandparent's home



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A REMINDER ON BEHALF OF MY FRIEND

As I told you a few weeks ago, Beaux-Arts Brampton is having a sale of the works by artists associated with them.  One of these is my dear friend, Rose Marie.  She is actually pictured in the photo below on the left side.

Remember, if any of you readers live in or near the Brampton area, I am sure it would be well worth your while to stop by and take a look at what is being offered.  Even if you can't get there before Christmas, you still might find something special for yourself in the days following Christmas.  Take a look!


My friend, Rose Marie, shown in a photo from a Brampton newspaper.
Remember, the Christmas Sale runs until January 4, 2014.



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SUKI AND SALLIE


Here is Suki on an angle!  She has that
look which says "I am getting ready to
do something really crazy"!!


Suki and I have had quite a bit of company lately.  Thankfully, she has been pretty well behaved -- for Suki, that is!

For example, when friends came to visit on Friday -- with gifts in hand -- it turned out that they even had a gift for Suki.  I tried calling Suki so that she would come into the living room and receive her gift.  Of course, since cats do not come when called, this was a complete waste of breath and energy.

Finally, I went into the bedroom and found Suki sleeping soundly in the closet.  I gently got her out of her "closet box" and brought her triumphantly into the living room where she sat, yawning frequently, for a couple of minutes before she would even pay attention to what was going on around her.

When Suki finally did start to notice things, she sniffed carefully at the Christmas wrapping paper lying on the floor.  Then she deigned to turn her attention to my friend's teenage daughter who was, at that moment, dangling a play mouse stuffed with fresh catnip in front of Suki's face.  She sniffed a few times, reached out with her paw in sort of a desultory manner and then she yawned again!

This young woman was, however, very persistent and paid no attention to Suki's apparent lack of interest in her Christmas gift. Finally, my young friend was able to get Suki to take the mouse in her mouth and this caused the silly cat to begin to show some real interest in her new toy.  

Suki batted the mouse around for a couple of minutes, pushing it across the floor and watching as it moved away from her.  She would then go over to the mouse, sniff it and push it back across the floor in the opposite direction.  Sadly, Suki has never shown much interest in catnip.

After a few minutes of pushing the toy back and forth across the floor, to a chorus of encouraging comments from us, Suki pushed the mouse one more time and then proceeded to get up into one of the chairs, position herself comfortably there and begin her bathing ritual!  We had to be satisfied with her response to the mouse gift as from that point on, she ignored it no matter how frequently it was dangled in front of her face!

After my friends left, Suki took the mouse and energetically played with it for about ten minutes before needing to lie down and take another nap!  Why couldn't she have shown that kind of interest while my friends were here?  How embarrassing!  Do you think she does these things on purpose?!

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As for myself, I have had a fairly busy week which included another visit to a doctor.  This time I was not only told about the results of my blood work, but also given an explanation about why the doctors find it worrisome.  

Turns out that it is my Potassium which is too high.  I was told about the kinds of difficulties, even life-threatening difficulties, which could arise if we cannot get this level back down into the normal range.  At this point I was given a new diet to follow. Shown on the handout were all the foods I need to strictly avoid and all of those which I should choose instead.  

It turns out that all the foods I like best are in the column entitled: "Do not eat"!  The other column which is headed, "Foods to eat," lists all sorts of foods that I really do not enjoy.  I told the doctor that I would try to avoid as many of the "bad" foods as possible, but that there were a few items in the "do not eat" column which I absolutely had to have in order to maintain any semblance of joy in my cooking and eating.  After all, I do need to have some "quality of life," don't I?

So, I am trying my best to follow instructions, but it isn't going to be easy -- although it may be a good way to lose a bit of weight.  Why? Well, when I am presented with foods I do not like, I would rather go hungry than eat them.  I have been this way for as long as I can remember and I don't see myself changing this late in life. Hopefully, the medication I was given will help to lower the Potassium sufficiently without my having to give up too many of the foods that make me happy (including chocolate -- yes, it is on the "do not eat" list as well -- can you imagine life with chocolate?).
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Now for some sad news... as it turns out, I have had to cancel my planned visit to see Braden, his parents and his grandparents today! It is a very sensible decision, I think, as the freezing rain is still falling outside. This is not the Sunday I had hoped for!  After speaking with Braden's parents earlier this morning, we all decided that it would be foolish for me to try to get all the way out to the grandparents' home.  So, I am having to accept this disappointment with thanks to God for helping us make wise decisions.  Braden and his parents will come to visit me soon -- perhaps before the New Year begins.

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I pray, as we approach Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, that all who read this posting will be blessed in some special way during this holy season.  Let us remember what the angel said to the shepherds, "Peace on earth and good will to all people."  As the peace prayer song (based on the prayer of St. Francis) says:  "let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me".  Amen to that.


Drawing for this year's Christmas card 
by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013




Finally, let the cry of this season ring out across the earth:  "Come Lord Jesus".  

I wish you all a wonderful and blessed Christmas Day.   







Sunday, 15 December 2013

Cape Honeysuckle - Gaudete Sunday

"Cape Honeysuckle, Tecomaria capensi", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

As the eyes of the world are turned today towards South Africa, I felt that this was the right time to post a recent drawing of mine of the Cape Honeysuckle.  This brightly coloured plant is found in the very area of South Africa where Nelson Mandela was born and where his body has now been buried.  In fact, I would guess that this was a flowering plant with which Mandela was familiar as he grew to manhood in the Thembu tribal area of the Eastern Cape.  I was able to find the local names for this plant in both Swazi and Xhosa.  The Xhosa name of umsilingi would have been the name by which Nelson Mandela would have known this flower as a child growing up in Thembuland.

Cape honeysuckle is a fast growing, scrambling shrub which may grow up to 2-3 m. high and spread more than 2.5 m. This shrub is widely distributed throughout Southern Africa and is found in the Northern Province, Mpumalanga, Swaziland, KwaZulu-Natal, Cape coast and Mozambique. It is known scientifically as Tecomaria capensi

Tecoma capensi is an evergreen plant in warm climate areas but loses its leaves in colder areas. It has compound leaves that have oval leaflets with blunt teeth. Flowering time for this shrub is very erratic and often it flowers all year round. Flowers vary from red, deep orange, yellow to salmon. Flowers are tubular and bird pollinated, attracting nectar-feeding birds, especially sunbirds. The powdered bark of this attractive plant is used as a traditional medicine to relieve pain and sleeplessness.


The plant belongs to the Bignoniaceae family or the trumpet creeper or catalpa family of the figwort order of flowering plants. There are more than 725 species of trees, shrubs, and, most commonly, vines, chiefly of tropical America, tropical Africa, and the Indo-Malayan region. They form an important part of the earth's tropical forest vegetation because of the numerous climbing vines. 

A few of these are found in temperate regions, notably the catalpa tree (Catalpa), the trumpet creeper (Campsis), and the cross vine (Bignonia).   
"Campsis grandiflora, Trumpet Creeper",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
I have drawn several versions of Campsis (trumpet creeper) which I have posted previously.
One of these, posted in August of 2012, is shown at left.


Finally, let me join with so many around the world today and say: "Go well Madiba." May his soul, and the souls of all the departed, rest in peace.


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GAUDETE SUNDAY

The day takes its common name from the Latin word Gaudete ("Rejoice"), the first word of the introit of this day's Mass: 
Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob. 
This may be translated as: 
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob. 
— Philippians 4:4–6; Psalm 85 (84):1.

The season of Advent originated as a fast of forty days in preparation for Christmas. In the ninth century, the duration of Advent was reduced to four weeks. Advent preserved most of the characteristics of a penitential season which made it a kind of counterpart to Lent. Thus, Gaudete Sunday is a counterpart to Laetare Sunday (the 4th Sunday of Lent), and provides a similar break about midway through a season which is otherwise of a penitential character. 

The spirit of the Liturgy all through Advent is one of expectation and preparation for the feast of Christmas as well as for the second coming of Christ, and the penitential exercises suitable to that spirit are thus on Gaudete Sunday suspended, as it were, for a while in order to symbolize that joy and gladness to be found in the promised Redemption. 


Advent Wreath -- the rose
candle is lit on Gaudete Sunday,
the 3rd Sunday of Advent


Because Advent is a penitential season, the priest normally wears purple vestments. But on Gaudete Sunday the Church rejoices, and the priest may wear rose-coloured vestments.  For this same reason, the third candle of the Advent wreath, first lit on Gaudete Sunday, is traditionally rose-colored.


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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki just awakening from another nap!
She likes to sleep with her dolly beside her.
Well, what can I say about Suki?  For some reason she has been allowing me to sleep in for the past few days!  I am almost afraid to mention it as I might be tempted to believe that I would  jinx my good luck -- if I believed in luck, that is!

This is not to say that Suki has been well behaved -- quite the contrary.  Let me just give one example.

On Thursday night, as I was preparing for bed, I placed my iPad on the table next to my bed.  I had plugged it in so that it could re-charge overnight.  I had then selected my music app and had some selections from Handel's Messiah ready to play while I was falling asleep.  I left the room for a moment to do some other task related to bedtime -- this was a mistake!

Suddenly, I heard this great clatter and crashing sound coming from the bedroom.  Immediately, I knew that Suki had done something! As I entered the door, the first thing I saw was my iPad face down on the floor.  The next thing I saw was Suki with her paw on the electrical cord that had been attached to the iPad!  She has always had a weakness for electrical cords, but she had been ignoring them for the past few months and so I guess I had gotten somewhat complacent.

I shrieked as I took in this scene.  This noise caused Suki to let go of the cord and make a mad dash under the bed!  I rushed to pick up my iPad, hoping that it had not been broken, all the while shouting terrible threats against poor Suki.  When I realized that the iPad was working just fine still, I began to settle down somewhat -- although I must admit that the peaceful, sleepy mood I had been in previously was now gone!

I plugged the iPad in again only this time I put in on the table in such a way that the cord was no longer hanging down.  I then proceeded to tell Suki (still under the bed) all the terrible things that would happen to her if she tried to play with the electrical cord again.  I dwelt at particular length on the possible effects of electrical shock on a cat's body -- describing in great detail all the various unpleasant things that could occur if her teeth were to pierce the cord while it was plugged in.

Whether it was my words or my screams that affected Suki or something else entirely, I do not know, but she left the cord alone for the remainder of the night and has not touched it since. Whatever it was, I am just grateful that she appears to be avoiding electrical cords again as, in truth, I would of course be devastated if Suki were to give herself a lethal shock.  What a cat!

As for myself, I continue to be much the same as I have been for the past month or so.  I did see the doctor this past week and learned the results of my blood tests -- the things that are too high and those that are too low.  The results appear to suggest that something could be wrong with my adrenal glands, but that is far from certain at this time.  So, I really won't know anything definite until I  have a different, even more lengthy blood test early in the new year.  So, until then, all I can do is pray, patiently wait and try to stay as well as possible.

My very best experience of this past week, however, was the celebration of my birthday on the 14th.  I had a number of guests during the week prior to my birthday and two of them took me out for lunch while one brought me lots of goodies from the bakery at the Market -- others just came to visit and wish me happy birthday! 

On the day itself, I received so many greetings from family and friends that I was really quite overwhelmed.  These came in the form of cards in the mail (and those left at my door), e-cards, emails, greetings on Facebook and telephone calls.  I seemed to stay busy the entire day just talking on the phone, reading all the cards and emails and responding to as many as I could.  It was really quite a wonderful day and I am so grateful to God for the gift of such wonderful people in my life.

So, on that happy note let me end today's posting.  As always I continue to pray that all those who read this blog posting will be blessed and experience in their lives that peace, joy and love which are the gifts of the Spirit. 

Blessings to you one and all. 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Another Mother and Child

"Mother and Child (Art Nouveau Influence)" drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013


The above drawing is another in my ongoing series of works depicting a mother with her child.  My drawing was somewhat influenced by a work of William Fulton Soare.  As far as I can tell, his painting of a mother and child was done in the late 1920s.

However, his work shows a mother and daughter in a very stylized pose depicting the styles of clothing and hair-dos of that period.  I was not interested in copying his work exactly; rather, I wanted to use the same positions of the figures while making the drawing mine.  The figures in his drawing became my models.

As most of you are well aware by now, I have a, yet, unsatisfied longing to draw what I consider to be the perfect image of a mother with her child -- an image which shows clearly that special bond between them.  As you also know, I usually prefer to draw a mother with her son as I am usually thinking of our Blessed Mother and her very special Son when I am doing such a drawing.  

Frequently, I end up including symbols which tell the viewer that this drawing is actually one depicting our Blessed Mother with her Son, Jesus.  This time, however, I have left the determination of just who these two people might be up to the viewer.  Of course, I may at some later time decide that I want to indicate that this is another drawing of Our Lady by adding a halo or nimbus -- only time and the movement of the Spirit will tell!

The finished drawing is, of course, not quite satisfactory as far as I am concerned.  The reason I feel this way is the same reason I have given over and over: it is almost impossible to properly show shadows and shading using my computer software.  I have found ways over the years to try to compensate, however, these techniques are really not very satisfying. Sometimes when I am working on a drawing, I really long to pull out my paint and brushes again, but I know better -- I would only end up in more pain than usual plus I would be very, very frustrated! 

At any rate, I will try to accept the limitations of my "medium" and just get on with doing what I am still able to do.  All I can say is that I hope my work occasionally speaks to you in some positive way.


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SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, DEC. 08

"The Annunciation" by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009

Since today is December 8th, we would normally be celebrating the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.  However, since the feast fell on a Sunday this year, it has been transferred and will be celebrated tomorrow instead.

I love this feast day as it speaks to the marvelous nature of Our Lady's conception in the womb of her mother, St. Anne.

What a very special moment that was in time and in eternity when our Lady was conceived immaculate, free from the stain of original sin.  I remember years ago being told by a priest that it was as though Our Lady entered the waters of Baptism at the very moment of her conception.  And how could it be otherwise?  How could the Mother of Our Lord carry the stain of original sin and also carry the most pure and holy body of her Son in her womb?  

I have posted the icon I did (back when I was preparing my book on the Rosary) of the Annunciation -- see above.  The Gospel reading for tomorrow's Mass will be the account of the Angel Gabriel's announcement to the young Mary -- that she was to be the Mother of the Messiah!  The story never ceases to amaze me.  I try to remember myself as a young woman in my mid-teens and then try to imagine what my response would have been to such an announcement!  It certainly would not have been "Fiat" -- "be it done unto me according to your word."

How very grateful I am that Our Lady said "yes".  I pray that we all will be able and willing to say yes to whatever He asks of us.


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MY FRIEND, ROSE MARIE NICOLUCCI, THE ARTIST

Announcement about a Fine Art Christmas Sale from my friend, Rose Marie Nicolucci and other artists, from Beaux Arts Brampton.

All of you who follow this blog regularly have seen information several times before about art shows and sales in which my friend, Rose Marie, is involved.  I always like to try to help her and all the artists from Beaux Arts Brampton with a bit of publicity about their activities.

So, as you can see from the above poster, there is an art sale going on right now at 70 Main St. N in Brampton, Ontario.  If you live in the area, I know you will enjoy checking it out.  You might even find that perfect Christmas gift there!  


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SUKI AND SALLIE

I had just asked Suki if she
wanted to eat.  You can see from
 the expression on her face what
she thinks of such a foolish question! 
There is not much to report about either Suki or myself this week.

Suki's biggest problem has been deciding where to sleep each night. This difficulty has been caused by the fact that I have been changing beds practically every night in an effort to find some place where I am relatively comfortable!

At times I feel a bit like Goldilocks in the story about the three bears! Remember, one bed was too hard, one bed was too soft, but the third bed was "just right".  The main difference between my experience and that of Goldilocks is that she found a comfortable bed and I still haven't!

I have tried the recliner, the sofa and my bed.  I have tried each with and without all sorts of pillows.  Thus far, nothing seems to be quite right.  

The problem is, of course, pain.  I am trying to find a place where I will be comfortable enough so that I can get to sleep and stay asleep.  The problem for Suki is where she is going to sleep since she insists on sleeping somewhere close, often very close, to my sleeping place!

When I sleep in the recliner, she usually ends up sleeping on my chest even though that is rather dangerous.  It can be dangerous because if she starts to make me feel uncomfortable enough, because of her weight or the heat she generates, and this discomfort awakens me, I have been known to dump her rather roughly onto the floor!  She does not like this at all.

When I sleep on the sofa, she is usually content to sleep on the back of the sofa, right above my face.  This gives her the means to easily tap me on the face with her paw when she feels it is time for her to eat. This position also affords her some safety should I try to grab her or push her away!

When I sleep in my bed, Suki is usually content to sleep on the body pillow which I place between myself and the wall.  This is truly her favourite spot, I think, as she is able to both pat my face and even lick my face without having to move.  Both techniques are guaranteed to awaken me and she has an easy escape route off the side of the bed should I try to grab her!

Actually, for all my complaining, I really don't mind most of Suki's antics.  If I have been able to find some place that is reasonably comfortable enough to allow me to fall asleep, I normally am able to sleep soundly for enough hours so that I really am ready to get up by about 5 a.m. anyway!  This is fine with Suki.  Even though she would really prefer to have her breakfast at 4:30, she can usually wait another half hour without getting too impatient!

The only other item to mention is that I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and I will, hopefully, be told the results of my latest tests along with the doctor's opinion about what is going on with me at present.  I will be able to tell you much more when I do my posting next Sunday.  Stay tuned! 

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I pray that you will all have a wonderful second week of Advent. The time of preparation for Christmas goes so quickly.  I need to constantly remind myself that I need to prepare my heart to receive Our Lord anew at Christmas.  May Our Lady teach us how to wait patiently for the revelation of God in our lives.

Wishing you all many blessings as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception tomorrow.  "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.  Amen."

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Familiar Flowers and Advent

"Morning Glory Blossom, Stylized", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Today, on this first Sunday of Advent, I want to show you a couple of new flower drawings.

The first one, entitled: "Morning Glory Blossom, Stylized", is my attempt to create my own version of a beautifully drawn Art Nouveau Morning Glory blossom.  My version is more "modern Sallie" than it is Art Nouveau, I'm afraid!

At any rate, I enjoyed doing the drawing very much and although I was not able to capture the curving beauty of the Art Nouveau style, I do feel somewhat pleased with the result.  I can only hope you enjoy it as well.


"Calla Trinity", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013


Now, for this second drawing, I really shouldn't even have to tell you the name of this flower.  You have seen so many of my drawings of Calla lilies over the years (assuming you have been following my blog for any period of time).

What can I say?  I do not think I will ever get tired of trying to capture the beauty that I see in the "uncluttered curves" present in every Calla lily.

I called this drawing "Calla Trinity", as you can see above; however, I considered calling it "Colouration"!  Why?  Because, as some of you are aware, the  name of my art print business is "Colouration". Of course, few are aware of this name since I have never really been able to get a business started!

Every time I try, I always end up giving things freely to the churches and charitable organizations that request my permission to use them.  When I do charge for items, I end up charging little more than cost for the items.  After all these years, it would take me quite some time to even earn back all the money I have spent on art work and then given away to some charity or church or friend.  I simply do not have the head or the heart of a business woman! 

Oh, well, c'est la vie as the French say! 


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ADVENT 

"Waiting", drawing of Our Lady by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

With the season of Advent in mind, I began drawing this image of Our Lady some weeks ago.  I wanted to create something that I felt was saying: "Come, Sallie, and wait with me."

This is the reason why I drew Our Lady's eyes looking directly at me.  I really wanted to feel as though she was asking me to wait, to be silent, to anticipate both the Second Coming and the yearly recalling of the birth of Our Lord Jesus.

I don't know if this image will speak to you or not, but I hope it will. In this modern world where advertisers feed our addiction for the latest, the fastest, the best, the biggest, the idea of waiting for something is truly counter-cultural!  However, I really want to try to spend time consciously waiting, with Our Lady, for these next four weeks.  Who knows, maybe it will become a habit!

I did get new pamphlets of reflections to use daily during Advent.  I decided to try the Liguori Press offerings this year.  I ended up having to order two different ones, however.  Why?  Because one that attracted me is written by a Jesuit, but, just in case there was too much of the "mind" in his reflections, I also decided to get a pamphlet by a Franciscan as I know I can always rely on a Franciscan to give me a good dose of "heart" in whatever is written. Kind of like the combination our current Holy Father presents!  


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SUKI AND SALLIE


Here is Suki soundly sleeping although her
eyes appear to be slightly open
As most of you know, whenever I am sitting in my recliner in the living room now, Suki always ends up in the chair on the other side of the side table.  No matter where I am that is where Suki wants to sleep.



Here is Suki awake (and displeased).  I tried
to sneak up on her, but how do you sneak
up on a cat?!

Recently, just after finishing Morning Prayer, I looked over at Suki and had to laugh.  She was sound asleep, but her eyes still looked as though they were open.  

I know that cats can do this and that they even have two sets of eyelids on each eye; however, this time it really looked as though Suki was staring at me, but I could see that she was dreaming so I knew she was sound asleep. I stealthily tried to move into a position from which I could take a photo with my iPad, but I was only able to get one click off before Suki actually awoke! 

I could see that she was not pleased about being awakened so I took a picture of her again just so I could show her how grumpy she looks whenever her naps get interrupted.

Truly, it is very nice to have Suki's companionship wherever I go in the apartment.  She doesn't say very much until she feels those hunger pangs, but then she has a lot to say.  What a cat!

I, on the other hand, do not have a great deal to say as nothing much has happened this past week.  The only doctor's appointment I had was to see a specialist so that he could ask me how I was doing.  After he ascertained that I was doing all right, he wrote me a new prescription!  Nothing exciting about that.

After writing the above paragraph, I was interrupted by my buzzer which meant that visitors had arrived downstairs.  I knew it was the visitors from St. Michael's Cathedral so I let them in right away. They were bringing me the most wonderful gift I can imagine -- the gift of Our Lord in Holy Communion.  They have gone now and I am still feeling the joy of receiving the Eucharist.

On this positive note, I will end today's posting.
May Our Lady teach us all how to wait upon the Lord during these next four weeks of Advent so that we will be ready to celebrate His birth on Christmas Day.
May the peace of God be with us all.  Amen. 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Solemnity of Christ the King

"St. Luke the Evangelist", icon by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

I am writing this on the Solemnity of Christ the King -- the feast which signifies the ending of the Church year.  (Next Sunday will be the first Sunday of Advent -- the season leading up to Christmas.)  I mention this because the Gospel reading for this Sunday in Year C is taken from Luke 23:35-43 -- which is my convoluted way of making a connection to the recently completed icon of St. Luke shown above!


St. Luke (Λουκᾶς in Greek) is one of the Four Evangelists or authors of canonical Gospels of Jesus Christ. Luke was a native of the Hellenistic city of Antioch in Syria. The early church fathers ascribed to him authorship of both the Gospel according to Luke and the book of Acts of the Apostles, which originally formed a single literary work. Such authorship was later reaffirmed by prominent figures in early Christianity such as Jerome and Eusebius. 

In the New Testament, Luke is mentioned briefly a few times, and referred to as a doctor in the Pauline epistle to the Colossians; thus he is thought to have been both a physician and a disciple of Paul. Considered by early Christians as a saint, he is believed to have died a martyr. He is venerated as Saint Luke the Evangelist and is the patron saint of artists, physicians, surgeons, students and butchers; his feast day is 18 October. 

In traditional depictions, such as paintings, icons and church mosaics, St. Luke is often accompanied by an ox or bull, usually having wings.  This symbol represents a figure of sacrifice, service and strength. Luke's account begins with the duties of Zachariah in the temple; it represents Jesus' sacrifice in His Passion and Crucifixion, as well as Christ being High priest.  (Christian sacrifice that is also exemplified in Blessed Mary's obedience). The ox signifies that Christians should be prepared to sacrifice themselves, "laying down their lives" as Jesus said, in following Christ.  The ox or bull, which had to be prepared for sacrifice, may be the reason why St. Luke is also the patron of butchers!

Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009

Christian tradition states that St. Luke was the first icon painter. He is said to have painted pictures of the Virgin Mary and Child, in particular the Hodegetria image. [A Hodegetria (Greek: Ὁδηγήτρια, literally: "She who shows the Way") is an iconographic depiction of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) holding the Child Jesus at her side while pointing to Him as the source of salvation for mankind.] In the Western Church the best known example of Hodegetria image is the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help with the fingers of the right hand pointing upwards towards her Child. This icon, attributed to St. Luke, is the one he is holding in his hands in the above icon. The icon used is a copy of one I did several years ago (see above).  It is said that Our Lady allowed St. Luke to paint her while she described to him how Jesus had looked as a child.  

Finally, returning to this important feast day at the end of the Church Year, I give you the text of today's Gospel reading from Luke -- this account of events during the crucifixion describes for us that perfect sacrifice which has led, and continues to lead, to the greatest good imaginable.
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, "He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God." Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, "If you are King of the Jews, save yourself." Above him there was an inscription that read, "This is the King of the Jews." Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us." The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke 23:35-43

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THE VISIT

Well, it finally happened... my sister and her husband flew in for a visit!  We had a great time catching up on all the news about family and friends and just enjoying being together again.

The photo below shows us out for lunch at a local bistro.  Although you really cannot see it very well, the plate in the centre of the table holds our deliciously, decadent desert (we each had a fork)!


Me with my sister and her husband this past week at a local restaurant



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SUKI AND SALLIE


'Nuff said!
I came across the statement shown on the photo opposite this past week and immediately realized that it was perfect for placing on one of my photos of Suki.  I think it says pretty much everything about her attitude!

As this past week began, I was made aware once again of how creative Suki can be in finding interesting ways of trying to awaken me -- hoping I will get up and feed her!  

Early Monday morning, Suki began to hit one panel of the balcony door blinds against another, over and over. She cleverly chose the blinds close to a bell I have hanging on the handle of that door.  This meant that with each push of her paw, I not only heard the clack of the blinds hitting, but the bell was also faintly ringing.  She continued doing this until finally I awoke.  

It was such an irritating sound -- clack/ring, clack/ring. Usually, I can shout at her, telling her to behave, and she will cease such activities for a while. However, that morning she must have been particularly hungry as she simply refused to stop.  This required action on my part!

I got up, picked up Suki, carried her into the bathroom, set her down gently on the floor and then walked out, shutting the door firmly behind me.  I then turned on the television channel that plays only Baroque classical music (my favourite) -- turning it on just loudly enough to cover any sounds from the bathroom and yet not so loud as to keep me from going back to sleep.  I quickly fell asleep and slept soundly for another hour or so.

When I awoke, I could hear faint sounds coming from the bathroom.  Suki was making her displeasure known.  If I were able to understand cat language, I am sure I would have heard her saying some very unkind things about me.  

Ready to start my day, I got up and opened the bathroom door. Suki was sitting there in the middle of the floor, looking very displeased and she continued to meow loudly even after I made it obvious that she could now leave the bathroom.  She meowed all the way to the kitchen.  These were not gentle meows but loud, sharp ones so I am sure that she was telling me all about how terribly she had been treated.

Fortunately, once I sat a big bowl of her favourite food in front of her, she settled down right away.  After she finished eating, Suki was a bit distant for a while.  However, after she had given herself a good wash, she came over and jumped up into my lap and begin to purr.  I felt that I must have finally been forgiven.  

 As for me, I am continuing to do much the same.  

I think my poor, old body is just wearing out and there is really not much that can be done about that.  

This past week was free of doctors' appointments so I felt almost as though I was on vacation!  However, that is not true of the week ahead.  I will give you a report next Sunday if I find out anything of interest.

As I end today's posting, I want to wish you all a blessed feast of Christ the King.  On this Sunday, I always start thinking seriously about the few remaining weeks to my birthday and to Christmas.  I always try to make myself wait until about the 8th of December before I start putting out my Christmas things -- although I am always tempted to put them out December 1st!  

Even though I complain sometimes about having a December birthday, it is really rather nice to have my birthday in the same month that our Lord has His!  Which reminds me -- what am I going to give Jesus for Christmas this year?  Hmm... this is something I need to start thinking about!

So, may the awareness that this feast day brings of the Kingship of Christ -- both as a Ruler and as Saviour -- fill our hearts with joy and peace, today and every day.
St. Luke, pray for us.  
Amen.  


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Astrantia major

"Astrantia major", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

With a name derived from the Latin word for 'star', Astrantia is well-known and loved for the star-like quality of its flower heads. Major, meaning "larger", distinguishes this species from its smaller relative Astrantia minor.  Astrantia is a genus of plants in the Apiaceae family. Ten species exist in the wild. Astrantia belongs to the same family as the humble carrot. 

Astrantia has historically flourished through widespread growth in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe and the Caucasus. Astrantias have been cultivated in Britain since the 16th century and have numerous common names, such as “Melancholy Gentleman”, “Hattie's Pincushion” and the more well known “Masterwort”. 

Growing rapidly to be about one or two feet tall in just one season, Astrantia comes in a variety of colours, ranging from green through to cream, pink and deep reddish-purple. Astrantia’s tiny, delicate, star-shaped flower heads are held on fine stems radiating from a central point with a ruff of bracts protecting them and their seeds.

Astrantia major details

I enjoyed drawing these star-shaped flower heads.  In studying the flower heads before beginning to draw them, I discovered that when you look at them head on, you see the star shape but when you view them from the side, the white/pink "bars" actually stand up in a rounded form from the flower head so that you only see them. It was like drawing two different flowers. 

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KLEIN 

I have shown you a photo of this house previously, but the new photos I received recently show it in a much better light! The cousin who has taken on the responsibility of looking after the "ancestral" home has had it painted and it is looking much better.

This house has the standard arrangement of many houses of the early 1800s with a central hall on both floors with two very large rooms on each side.  Each room had a large fireplace on the outside wall and that was the only source of heating.  

I mention this because when I was young there were caretakers living in the house on the bottom floor.  I remember stopping by there with my parents during an Alabama winter.  Now, while it doesn't get as cold down there as it does in Canada, it can go below freezing every night for a couple of months.

As my parents and I stepped into the large sitting room this couple was using, I saw a huge fire burning in the fire place.  They were sitting in chairs pulled up as close to the fire as they possibly could without getting burned and I immediately understood why -- the room was freezing except right in front of the fire!  In fact, it felt colder by the door of that room than it did outside.  

I have often thought about that experience as I have tried to imagine my ancestors living in that house winter after winter. Somehow that image always seemed to clash in my thoughts as I imagined myself at Klein playing the part of Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) running down the stairs at Tara into the arms of Rhett Butler (Clark Gable)! How lacking in romance it was to have to imagine them huddled close to the fire place in the winter time, trying desperately to keep warm!  So much for romance!



My Mother's family's ancestral home



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SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki resting on my favourite blanket


Well, Suki hasn't done anything out of the ordinary this past week -- she has just been her usual kitty-cat self.

One thing those that never ceases to amaze me about my furry companion, however, is how cleverly she devises ways of waking me up in the morning!

I have tried over and over again to remove anything from the bedroom that Suki might use which would enable her to get me to wake up in the morning when she is ready to eat.

I look around the room before bedtime and every where I gaze I can see nothing that she can wiggle, move or scratch in order to awaken me.  Anything that I can imagine could be used for such purposes has been either taped down, tucked in or hidden away for the night.

As most of you know, Suki once used her scratchy tongue to awaken me at feeding time.  However, she is no longer doing this as she has learned that when I am wake up this way, I tend to be rather unpleasant and will dump her rather unceremoniously onto the floor.  Since she doesn't seem to like this, she has now found other ways to accomplish her goal -- ways which keep her just out of my reach!

The frustrating part, for me, is that no matter how hard I try to prevent it, Suki always finds something I overlooked to use for that early morning wake-up call!  This morning, for example, she managed to get a pencil from the pen holder on my desk!  Have you any idea what a loud sound can be made by a clever cat rolling a pencil back and forth over a hardwood floor?  Well, let me tell you, it certainly makes enough racket to awaken even the deepest sleeper.

Tonight, the pen holder and everything in it will placed into the closet before bedtime!  Although, I really wonder why I even bother -- I should know by now that this cat is cleverer than I am. She will undoubtedly find some way to awaken me when she decides it is time for her to eat....


Now, as for me, I am still trying to get this cold to go away.  I thought for sure that it would have left me alone by now, but no such luck.  I continue to go through boxes of tissues at a rapid rate. I will have to admit that I am feeling just a little bit better today and so I am just a bit more optimistic about the possibility of being cold free by next Sunday.

I did have an appointment with the sleep specialist this past week and now that he has increased my medication considerably, I am finding that I am able to stay awake just a bit better with each new day.  I am now hopeful that after I have been at this dosage level for a couple of weeks, I may even be able to go through the whole day without falling asleep at inappropriate times.  It would be wonderful to have that kind of freedom again.

As I mentioned last week, I do have several medical tests ahead of me still, but they won't be happening for a few weeks yet. Meanwhile, I am just enjoying staying awake more normally.

On a sadder note, one of my friends here in the building had to move into a nursing home this past week.  She moved into this building about the same time I did 16 years ago.  We have lived on the same floor all that time and I will miss her presence here in the co-op very much.  As well, this is a reminder that we are all getting older and more in need of caregivers to help us stay as independent as possible.  

As I end this posting, let me remind you -- if you need reminding -- that we are almost at the beginning of another Church year.  We will celebrate Christ the King next Sunday.  I am already beginning to prepare for Advent with the recent purchase of an Advent book of readings and reflections.

I pray that the week ahead will be filled with blessings for all those who read this blog posting, those who are followers of this weekly message about my art, my life, Suki the cat, and my faith.  Thank you all for allowing me to share all of this with you -- especially the gift of my art work.  May the peace of God be with you all.



Sunday, 10 November 2013

Little Lamb Who Made Thee?

"Little Lamb Who Made Thee?", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Here is a new drawing of Our Lady with the Child Jesus and a lamb. The drawing is loosely based on a painting by William Adolphe Bouguereau (1825 - 1905). This is another in my series of drawings showing the Son of God as either a lamb or with a lamb. 

Lamb of God (Latin: Agnus Dei) is a title for Jesus that appears in the Gospel of John (John 1:29).  In the scene being described, John the Baptist sees Jesus and exclaims, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." This description, however, was not meant to depict Our Lord as the “scapegoat” of the Old Testament, which is a person or animal subject to punishment for the sins of others without knowing it or willing it. But rather that Jesus chose to suffer at Calvary as a sign of his full obedience to the will of his Father, as an "agent and servant of God" – thus this image is more related to the Paschal Lamb of Passover.


One of the better
known image of
the Good Shepherd
found in the
catacombs

The lamb is one of the few Christian symbols dating from the first century, particularly, the image of the Good Shepherd carrying on His shoulders a lamb or a sheep. As well, the shepherd was sometimes shown with a lamb on His shoulders with two other sheep at his side. According to the research, the lamb or sheep on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd is a symbol of the soul of the deceased being borne by Our Lord into heaven; whereas the two sheep accompanying the Shepherd represent the saints already enjoying eternal bliss. Between the first and the fourth century eighty-eight frescoes of this type were depicted in the Roman catacombs.

However, after the conversion of Constantine and the cessation of the persecution of Christians, the basilicas that were built began to show the lamb as representing the Lamb of God, Christ Jesus. In Church and religious pictures we have all seen the Lamb carrying the cross or showing the five wounds of the crucifixion. The Book of Revelation contains numerous descriptions of this sort, portraying the Lamb of God as both the sacrifice and as the Lord enthroned and reigning over all of creation.

By the time of William Adolphe Bouguereau (1825 - 1905), many religious paintings depicted Our Lady holding a lamb in her arms, holding her Son and a lamb in her arms or holding her son with a lamb at their feet. Even though the lamb could be a reminder of such images as the Lamb of God or the Good Shepherd, by this time the lamb was no longer necessarily included as anything other than a lamb.

Although it has no bearing on this drawing, I will mention once again that whenever I see, think about or try to draw a lamb, these lines of William Blake's famous poem from his "Songs of Innocence and Experience" always comes to mind.

The Lamb 
 BY WILLIAM BLAKE 

Little Lamb who made thee 
Dost thou know who made thee 
Gave thee life and bid thee feed. 
By the stream and o'er the mead; 
Gave thee clothing of delight, 
Softest clothing woolly bright; 
Gave thee such a tender voice, 
Making all the vales rejoice! 

Little Lamb who made thee 
Dost thou know who made thee 
Little Lamb I'll tell thee, 
Little Lamb I'll tell thee! 
He is called by thy name, 
For he calls himself a Lamb: 
He is meek and he is mild, 
He became a little child: 
I a child and thou a lamb, 
We are called by his name. 
Little Lamb God bless thee. 
Little Lamb God bless thee.


*Certain parts of the above information came either from Wikipedia or the Catholic Encyclopedia.
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SOMETHING OF INTEREST

Recently, I have received several requests for permission to use some of the icons I have drawn.  One such request was from the pastor of a Lutheran church in Kansas.  As always, I asked that I be sent a copy of the finished product.  Thus, in Friday's mail, I received a copy of their church bulletin from the Sunday after All Saints.  The following image if of the back cover of that bulletin.


Back cover of the bulletin of a Lutheran Church in Kansas.  This bulletin was for
the Sunday following the Feast of All Saints, November 1, 2013 

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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki in one of her favourite chairs!
Well, this week, I can combine most of what is happening with me with the story of what is happening with Suki!

At the beginning of this past week, the arthritis in my spine began to bother me quite a lot. I tried sleeping in my bed as usual, but I was unable to get comfortable due to the pain. Even trying to arrange all sorts of pillows to support my back did not accomplish anything.

Finally, I decided to see if my recliner would give my back the support it needed so that I could get some sleep.  The only problem with this idea was that the recliner had been moved into the living room to make more space available in my bedroom.  While there was plenty of room in the living room for the recliner, I had not placed it far enough from the wall so that it could be "reclined" to the full extent.  

So, there I was at about midnight moving furniture around in my living room!  Really that sounds worse than it was as I only had to move the coffee table up close to the couch and then pull the recliner out from the wall, making sure not to bunch up the area rug.  This, of course, did not make my back feel any better, but I was desperate by this time for something relatively comfortable so that I could get to sleep!

Finally, all was in place.  I had a throw from the couch to put over my feet and legs and so I settled myself in the recliner, pushing it all the way back.  Suddenly, I felt the pain easing from my back as the recliner gave me support in just the right places.  With a prayer of gratitude to God on my lips, I quickly fell asleep.

Suki, meanwhile, had observed all my antics with a certain look of displeasure.  First of all, she greatly dislikes the movement of any furniture as that denotes change and change is anathema to Suki. As well, Suki has become really fond of spending the night in the bedroom as she is able to stretch out fully on the body pillow on my bed.  Not only is this very comfortable, but from this position, she is able to reach out with her paw and pat my face gently when she has decided that it is time for her first meal of the morning -- usually around 4 a.m.

Since I was exhausted, I had paid little attention to Suki other than to say: "Goodnight Suki, wherever you are!" just as I was falling asleep.  So I was not prepared for what was to follow.

It seemed just moments after I had fallen asleep that I was awakened by Suki perched on the recliner just above my head.  It wasn't her being there that had awakened me, rather it was the fact that she was trying to wash my scalp with her scratchy tongue! With one quick move I grabbed her and pulled her down onto my chest.  With hardly a thought as to what condition my hair might be in the morning, I quickly fell back to sleep.

Suki must have stayed there on my chest for quite some time or else she managed to move very gently as I slept soundly.  I was not awakened again until about 4 a.m.  This time I was gradually awakened by a strange brushing sound.  At first I had tried to ignore the sound in my sleep by dreaming it away and then, after awakening, I tried to actually ignore the sound and just return to sleep.  As many of you know, however, I still have excellent hearing and cannot ignore a sound of unknown origin, no matter how faint it may be.

I knew, of course, that it must be Suki up to some mischief.  So, I tried calling her name and telling her to stop whatever she was doing.  This did not work.  The sound continued just as before. Finally, I realized that I was going to have to get up, find Suki and stop her from doing whatever it was that she was doing!

As I brought the recliner upright, I begin looking in the direction from which the noise seemed to be coming.  At first I couldn't see anything as I had only turned on a small table lamp for light. Gradually, as I looked more closely, I begin to make out the outline of one very black cat sitting directly under the lamp table.  

I could see that Suki was just lying there but the noise was continuing.  Then, in the dim light, I noticed one front paw moving ever so slightly.  She was gently swinging the electrical cord from the lamp.  This slight movement caused a brushing, scratching sound as the cord moved again the wall.  That was all that was happening and Suki was lying there, looking very pleased with herself.

I begin to say some rather unpleasant things to her; however, she appeared not to notice.  Instead, she stretched and began to walk slowly towards the kitchen.  I stood there, amazed at the cheek of this cat.  My first thought was to simply refuse to feed her and to return to my "bed"; however, I knew from long experience with this cat that this plan would not work.  So, I gave in, went into the kitchen and fed her!  I know when I am beaten.

Once Suki was fed, she settled done in the chair opposite me and, after a bit of washing up, went directly to sleep!  I returned to the recliner, tried to settle myself in once again and, thankfully, was able to get another few hours of sleep.  What a cat!

So, now you know about my back problems.  I am, of course, still dealing with all the other issues that are presently afflicting me, but most of them seem to be, momentarily, under control.  There are several concerns that are presently being looked into, but since I don't really know anything new at this point, I will just save any comments until later.

My biggest disappointment these days is that one of these issues is keeping me from being able to go to the gym each day.  I am really hoping that I will feel better this coming week as I miss my workouts. Thankfully, I am still able to spend a bit of time each day doing my art.

So, I come to the end of another posting.  Before long, people from St. Michael's Cathedral will be coming to bring me Our Lord in Holy Communion.  This is the high point of my week.  As I receive the Sacred Host, I will be praying that all those people who will read this blog in the days ahead will be greatly blessed and find the joy and love that we all desire.  May the peace of God be with you.